Background: Aortic valve sparing operations in patients with ascending aorta and/or aortic root aneurysms have been performed for a decade in our institution. Initially only patients with normal aortic valve leaflets had these operations, but more recently we utilized them in patients with prolapse of a single leaflet and in those with a bicuspid aortic valve. This article is an update on the clinical results of these operations.
Methods: From May 1988 to December 1997, 126 patients with ascending aorta and/or aortic root aneurysms and aortic insufficiency underwent replacement of the ascending aorta with reconstruction of the aortic root and preservation of the native aortic valve. There were 85 men and 41 women, with a mean age of 54 years (range, 14 to 84). Thirty-two patients had the Marfan syndrome; 17 patients had acute and 10 had chronic type A aortic dissection; 23 had a transverse arch aneurysm; 26 had coronary artery disease, and 8 had mitral regurgitation. The aortic valve sparing operation consisted of simple adjustment of the sinotubular junction in 33 patients, adjustment of the sinotubular junction and replacement of one or more aortic sinuses in 60, and reimplantation of the aortic valve in a tubular Dacron (C.R. Bard, Haverhill, PA) graft in 33. Fifteen patients also had repair of aortic leaflet prolapse. Only 4 patients had a bicuspid aortic valve.
Results: There were 3 operative deaths due to cardiac failure. Patients were followed from 2 to 117 months, with a mean of 31. There were 11 late deaths: 7 cardiovascular and 4 from unrelated causes. The actuarial survival was 72 +/- 8% at 7 years. Two patients required aortic valve replacement; the freedom from aortic valve replacement was 97 +/- 2% at 7 years. Doppler echocardiography revealed absent, trivial or mild aortic insufficiency in most patients; only 9 patients had moderate aortic insufficiency.
Conclusions: Aortic valve sparing operations are feasible in most patients with ascending aorta and/or aortic root aneurysms who have normal or near normal aortic leaflets. The functional results of the repaired aortic valve are excellent, and the repair appears to be durable.